Scarecrows, like Dorothy’s friend in the “Wizard of Oz”, have been around since people started to farm.To keep birds from eating their crops, ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks made statues of their harvest gods and set them in the fields to protect their food. Over time, different countries made different kinds of scarecrows. In Germany, farmers built wooden witches with potato sack clothes and metal wind chimes to frighten the birds and keep away the evil spirits from their new seedlings. In Japan, they tied smelly oil rags and fish bones to sticks with bamboo wind chimes and placed them in the rice paddies; they also made scarecrows dressed in peasant clothes and hung shiny metal objects that reflected the sunlight to frighten the birds. Native American tribes hung strips of cloth, animal skins, and bones from rawhide thongs or carved wooden hawks on top of pillars to guard their farmlands. Sun reflector wind chimes made from metal, mirrors, tin cans, and CDs, are a good way to protect individual fruit trees and small garden plots.
Kids can make a scarecrow from traditional materials, burlap sacks, buttons, old clothes, and straw. Start with a wooden T frame with two pieces of 2 x 4 wood beams. Attach the 2 foot shoulder board 8 to 10 inches from one end of the 5 to 6 foot long support beam. Kids can connect pieces of wood to create arms or make a fun pose, and dress the scarecrow in any creative way they may like. Lay the frame on the ground, slip one leg of the pants over the bottom of the support beam, with the other leg hanging free. Stuff the clothes with straw, newspaper, or rags. Slip the sleeves of the shirt over the cross piece, attach to the pants and pin on gloves for hands. Old burlap feed bags are an ideal material for a head with dried vines or a mop for hair. Tie twine around the open end of the head and attach it securely to the shirt. A hat can be glued or tied to the head. Kids can decorate their scarecrow with sun reflectors and noise makers to keep birds from gobbling up their new sown seeds and eating the tender green sprouts in their fall garden.